Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is the First 5G Mobile Processor

Most (all?) CNX Software readers already know 5G cellular technology is coming soon, and companies have already announced 5G modems such as Samsung Exynos 5100, MediaTek M70 or Snapdragon X50, some 5G picocells, but AFAIK, so far nobody had officially unveiled 5G mobile processor.

Qualcomm has finally announced their Snapdragon 855 5G mobile processor platform codenamed SDM8150, also delivering 3 times improvement for artificial intelligence workloads thanks to its 4th generation AI engine.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

As usual, Qualcomm has not provided the full details about the processor during the first announcement, but they just listed some highlights:

  • 4G and 5G connectivity with  sub-6 GHz and mmWave support
  • 4th Gen AI engine with 3x performance improvement
  • Improved photography and video via Computer Vision ISP, true 4K HDR video capture
  • Ultrasonic fingerprint support
  • Process – 7nm

That’s it, so we have to rely on leaks and benchmarks found around the web to get some (preliminary) technical details for Snapdragon 855:

  • Tri-cluster octa-core processor:
    • 1x Kryo Gold Prime core @ up to 2.842 GHz, 512KB L2 cache
    • 3x Kryo Gold [email protected] up to 2.419 GHz, 256KB L2 cache per core
    • 4x Kryo Silver low-power cores @ up to  1.786 GHz, 128KB L2 cache per core
  • GPU – Adreno 640
  • Modem – X50 5G modem + X24 4G modem?

If true this configuration is interested, as it’s the first time I see a multi-cluster SoC with a single high-performance core, but I guess it makes sense for example to load apps and web pages faster, both of which are usually single threaded workloads (AFAIK).

5G qualcomm reference design

The company also showcased the 5G reference design pictured above, which looks like any phone, except it can connect to 5G networks as demonstrated live in Hawaii.

Qualcomm 2-hour keynote is available above starting at 11:30. However, if you’re watching this as an engineer expecting to get many technical details, don’t waste your time, as the presentation is more geared towards corporate types with an overview of 5G advantages and use cases.

5G Roadmap

We’ll still find some interesting tidbits in the presentation slides, with for example the roadmap for 5G deployment around the worldwide, and 5G cellular network will be thing in 2019 in North America, Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. India and Latin America markets will have to wait a little longer as deployments are expected in 2020-2021.

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My entire impression from the 1st-day QCOMM conf was that it was all about 5G. Snapdragon 855 was mentioned just in relation to 5G, with some performance claims at AI (read: convolution at reduced precision — all the rage these days).

But they did promise proper details for today, so let’s see.